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God Wants To Answer Your Prayers, #1

(This is the first chapter of a book I'm working on, God Wants To Answer Your Prayers, to encourage faith in prayer. I'll try and post the following chapters when available.)

Prayer, a sure thing?

Most of us, and by “us” I mean those of us who believe in prayer, who believe in God, have very little real confidence in prayer. We might pray as a last resort, when we’ve run out of options, we’re scared, would grasp at even the slimmest of hopes, but it’s certainly not something we rely on, something we count on, anything we’d recommend to our friends. Prayer isn’t the first thing we turn to when we need a job, or finances, or help, or healing. It’s not the first thing we turn to because we don’t believe it does very much of anything.

But Jesus and the Bible talk about answered prayer like it’s a sure thing, a certainty, something that is extremely reliable. Here’s Jesus:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8 NIV)

“Ask and it will be given to you…” Not might be given to you, or even, probably given to you, but will be given to you. It’s a certainty, a sure thing. The words, ask, seek and knock are parallels, basically synonyms, repetitions of the same idea. How much more certain could Jesus make it? What language could he have used to make it more certain than, “will be given to you?” When you ask, it will be given to you.

And he means everyone.

Jesus follows up in the next verse, “For everyone who asks receives…” He doesn’t say every nice person, or every religious person, or even every person who serves God. No, “…everyone who asks receives.”  It doesn’t work quite how we would expect. Often the people we’d think would be the least qualified to get their prayers answered, are the ones getting their prayers answered. You can see this idea of God’s desire to bless everyone in a couple other of Jesus’s sayings:

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How I Learned What Faith Is, #1

(This is the first chapter in a little book I'm trying to write, about how I learned what faith is. I'll try and remember to post the other chapters as they become available.)

How I became a Christian.

I became a Christian through the ministry of Pastor Fred Price of Crenshaw Christian Center, in Los Angeles, California.

I was in my first year of Law School at UCLA and I would go home, on breaks, to Holtville, a tiny farming town located in the bottom, right hand corner, of California, to visit Becky and my parents. Pastor Price had just begun broadcasting his Church services on T.V. In Los Angeles and, since the L.A. channels were the bulk of our cable programming in Holtville, Pastor Price’s services were also on in our small town.

Once, I was getting ready to go shoot some baskets over at the junior high school and I walked through the family room to say good bye to my parents who were watching Pastor Price on T.V. They asked me to watch for a bit and said he was pretty funny. I stopped in the doorway just to be polite and listened for a bit. I don’t remember what he was talking about but he said these words, “Jesus said you must be born again.”

Now, I’d heard the term “born again” before. There’d been a religious revival of sorts at Holtville High School, I think, in my sophmore year. Friends of mine had mentioned being born again, but I didn’t recall them ever mentioning that Jesus said, “You must be born again.”

So when Pastor Price said, that Jesus said, you must be born again, the thought that came to my mind was, ‘Well if Jesus said it, then you must have to be born again.’ So I determined to figure out how to be born again. Later Pastor Price explained from Romans 10:9-10 that the way to be born again is to believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and confess with your mouth that he is Lord. That’s how you join the Jesus movement.

I got back to school and began watching Pastor Price’s broadcast on Sunday mornings. When Becky came up to UCLA, she and I started watching his program together and reading our Bibles. Eventually we began attending Pastor Price’s church, which, at that time, was located on Crenshaw Boulevard in Inglewood, California, close to Los Angeles International Airport.

Now, Pastor Price was a faith teacher…

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